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ICR Scientist to Lead Manchester’s Paterson Institute




Thursday 22 September 2011



Professor Richard Marais from The Institute of Cancer Research has been appointed as the next director of the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research in Manchester.

Currently the ICR’s Professor of Molecular Oncology, Professor Marais will take up his post in February 2012. He succeeds Professor Nic Jones who was appointed Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist earlier this year.

Professor Marais is a world-leading expert on the underlying causes of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Much of his work has focused on how the protein BRAF triggers cancer, which is faulty in more than half of all melanomas. Damage to the protein locks it in an active form that drives cell growth that ultimately leads to cancer. This work has already led to the discovery of potential new drugs to treat skin cancer that are now showing promise in clinical trials.

Professor Marais said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Paterson Institute at an exciting time for cancer research in Manchester. The Paterson is already recognised internationally and we will build on this reputation over the coming years.” 

He joined the ICR in 1992 as an Independent Postdoctoral Research Fellow and since 1998 has been Leader of the Signal Transduction Team, based at the ICR’s Chelsea laboratories. In 2011 he was appointed Head of the newly-created Division of Cancer Biology.

Professor Alan Ashworth, Chief Executive of the ICR, said: “Richard Marais’ work at the ICR has contributed to significant advances in our understanding of the causes of skin cancer and the development of important new personalised treatments. His appointment to lead the Paterson is a well deserved recognition of his standing. I am sure he will be a great success in his new role.”

The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research is one of Cancer Research UK’s five institutes, playing a key-role in its world-class research to find new ways to tackle cancer. Each year Cancer Research UK invests £20 million in Manchester to support this work.

Part of The University of Manchester, the Paterson is home to 16 research groups with a wide variety of interests ranging from the study of molecular processes that drive the growth and spread of cancers to the development of new drugs for leukaemia and discovering the causes of drug resistance in bowel cancer. It has particular research interests in breast and lung cancers and in radiotherapy. It also works very closely with The Christie, one of the leading and largest specialist cancer centres in Europe.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “I am delighted that Professor Richard Marais has agreed to lead the Paterson Institute, which is a very important role for the University, for Manchester and for cancer. Richard will also become a full professor of the University. His breadth and depth of expertise, from basic science to clinical studies on cancer patients, embraces key goals of the University.”

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “It’s a great pleasure to announce Professor Marais as the new director of the Paterson Institute. His research into the underlying causes of skin cancer has earned him worldwide recognition and is now beginning to deliver real benefits for patients with this form of the disease. We look forward to welcoming Professor Marais to Manchester and are confident that with his leadership the international reputation of the Paterson will continue to grow.”




For media enquiries please contact Simon Shears in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8054 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


Notes to editors

The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research

The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research is a leading cancer research institute within The University of Manchester, core funded by Cancer Research UK, the largest independent cancer research organisation in the world. Find out more by visiting the Institute’s website

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 22 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is now one of the country’s major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. The University had an annual income of £788 million in 2009/10.

Cancer Research UK

•           Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research

•           The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.  This work is funded entirely by the public.

•           Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.

•           Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.

•           Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

  • The ICR is Europe’s leading cancer research centre
  • The ICR has been ranked the UK’s top academic research centre, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise
  • The ICR works closely with partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to ensure patients immediately benefit from new research. Together the two organisations form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe
  • The ICR has charitable status and relies on voluntary income
  • As a college of the University of London, the ICR also provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction
  • Over its 100-year history, the ICR’s achievements include identifying the potential link between smoking and lung cancer which was subsequently confirmed, discovering that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and isolating more cancer-related genes than any other organisation in the world
  • The ICR is home to the world’s leading academic cancer drug development team. Several important anti-cancer drugs used worldwide were synthesised at the ICR and it has discovered an average of two preclinical candidates each year over the past five years.

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